Although not yet in a stable phase, Android 12 is a reality, and with it there are already twelve major versions of the operating system. This latest version stands out mainly for being one of the most revolutionary in terms of design, the end of the Material Design era we saw it with Android 5.0 Lollipop.
We wanted to take advantage of this design change to review how Android design evolved from the first version to the second. There have been many versions, multiple changes, and a design language that changed until it reached what was seen in Android 12.
Android 1 was born from the hand of the T-Mobile G1, and its interface was designed to be used both horizontally and vertically. It was a bit of a spartan user interface, with a simple launcher containing the basic applications and with rather spartan menus.
In this version we could already use widgetsit included the google search bar and the design laid a foundation that has been met to this day.
Android 2 was alive for two years, with Eclair, Froyo, and Gingerbread versions. These versions made major design changes. The interface was more refined, the notification bar started to get closer to what we have now, and the distribution of icons in the status bar was more even.
As usual, the Nexus interface was a clear example of what Google wanted to do at the design level, but with the popularization of Android among the big manufacturers, each one implemented their layer of customization, so it was difficult to see the design that we show you, belonging to the Nexus.
Android 3 is a version that will not exist in the minds of many users, since Honeycomb was born as an operating system for tablets. The Android 3 interface has not been generalized on mobiles, a few months later, Android 4 arrived, oriented towards phones.
Android 4 had two major design stages: Ice Cream Sandwich and KitKat. With Android 4.0 ICS a big change has occurred in the interface and, for the first time, we had a virtual keyboard as standard. Blue accents predominated, the system distributed interface elements to better take advantage of the resolution of the phone, etc.
With Android 4.0 came Google’s Roboto font, designed specifically for reading on high resolution screens. In short, Android 4.0 was a big step forward in terms of interface compared to previous versions.
With KitKat 4.4, Android 4 has reached its refinement. Aesthetically, the blue accent has been changed to white, the virtual bar has become transparent, and small overhauls have been made in settings and icons. It was not a revolution in design, but it matured the design line introduced by ICS.
Android 5.0 Lollipop was the arrival of Material Design, design line that accompanied us until the arrival of Android 12. With Lollipop there was a big change in all the elements of the system at the interface level, everything was redesigned with Material Design (flat and minimalist design), the color scheme tended to a dark green / cyan and the applications have adapted their accent colors in the notification bar.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow meant virtually no interface changes, but it was a version aimed at improving performance issues and bugs that Android 5.0 brought.
There have been some small changes in lock screen and volume controls, which has become even more unified and simplified. Otherwise, there was virtually no variation in the user interface.
Android 7 wasn’t a design revolution either, but it made some significant improvements in the notification bar. Along with this bar was added a small bar of quick adjustments which has evolved over time, but which was a good base compared to what we have today.
Following notifications, with Android 7, grouped notifications have finally arrived, so that the interface has grouped, for example, all WhatsApp messages, so that notifications take up less space. In this version, there wasn’t even an icon or menu redesign, so notifications were the small jump in the design.
With Android 8 came a renewal in settings and notifications. For the first time, the notifications were colored, adapting to the content of the apps (for example, when playing a YouTube video, the notification was red).
Settings were sharper and cleaner
Android 9.0 was a good design jump, replacing the three buttons with a little pill next to the back button: the first steps in gesture navigation. The launcher has been deeply redesigned, with transparency in the doc and the search bar and with slightly cleaner icons.
The notification and settings bar has also undergone a nice overhaul, including pictures for the first time, in order to have a more complete overview of the messages they sent us.
The biggest design change Android 10 has made it was the expected dark mode how fashionable it has become in recent years. Adapt an interface that, for a few years, followed a palette of white and light in contrast. For the rest, Android 10 was pretty continuous and didn’t introduce any major design changes.
With Android 11 the notification panel has changed slightly again, setting email notifications as priority notifications so that the panel is better ordered.
Also changed the interface of media controls, which now integrate better with Quick Settings and provide some pretty visual insight into the content we’re reading. In short, although Android 11 followed the basics seen from Android 9.0, it meant refinement of UI elements that could be improved.
Android 12 is the latest version of Android and is goodbye to material design in pursuit of Material You, the new design line for Google products. Here cousin who the interface is more responsive, with pastel tones that adapt to wallpapers, a general rounding of interface elements and more accessible icons.
With this new version of Android we will continue with elements such as the launcher inspired by previous versions, but menus, panels, lock screen and other general elements of the system will undergo significant changes. This will be the foundation to follow in future versions of Android, which will refine this Material You design line.